Electronic Design

New Year’s Resolution Is HD For All Kinds Of Video And Graphics

Dick Tracy first had one in 1964 and now you can have one, too. Cartoonist Chester Gould, creator of Dick Tracy, was way ahead of his time with the idea of Tracy using a two-way wrist television in 1964 (after upgrading his two-way radio first introduced in 1946). Now past meets present with China-based CECT’s latest cell-phone watch, the M800.

Even Tracy would be amazed at all the help he could get from the new GSM device. It features a 1.3-in. TFT-LCD screen supporting 128 by 160 pixels and Vi 65k colors, a hands-free speaker phone, and 128 Mbytes of memory. The watch can even play movies in MP4 format—not bad for a gadget hitting the market 44 years after it was first introduced in Gould’s comic.

Mobile devices like the M800—cell phones with GPS capability, gaming consoles, medical imaging, and PCs— are driving a slew of new products, and we’re just a year away from all-digital television broadcasts. Expect a big year for upgrades to HD-capable TVs, with all of the HD signals now available via satellite and cable companies.

The Connected Home
According to feedback gathered by Broadcom, consumers are pushing for easy networking of entertainment systems within their home. They don’t want to have to purchase and connect a bunch of disparate audio/video devices to play the latest movies. The new formats coming out are (purposely) incompatible, so the desire is to have the capability to quickly and efficiently transcode across available formats, bit rates, and resolutions in real time.

Thus, Broadcom’s BCM7043 addresses these issues, making it possible to share non-compatible video and audio formats by transcoding content into the required format for a given playback device (see the figure). It can transcode signals from cable, satellite, IPTV, terrestrial set-top boxes, portable media players, cell phones, home media centers, personal video recorders, digital video recorders, HD DVD, Blu-ray Disc, universal DVD players/recorders, and PCs.

The device is ready for the video signals of today and tomorrow, supporting H.264/AVC, MPEG-2/4, and VC-1 formats. It also provides DRM-compatible (digital rights management) security features that will help keep content owners happy.

Digital Rights Management
Hollywood doesn’t seem to know much about technology, but it would like to continue maximizing revenues for movies, television shows, and music. As such, companies like Intel are trying to take advantage of the lack of DRM standardsby producing their own, called High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP).

The idea behind HDCP is to prevent transmission of non-encrypted HD content using a combination of three components:an authentication process that prevents non-licensed devices from receiving targeted HDcontent; encryption of the HDdata stream sent over HDMI or DVI; and the ability to revoke security keys when a vendor violates a license agreement.

HDCP devices require a unique set of 40 56-bit keys, which must be kept confidential. For each key set, a 40-bit key selection vector is created (one bit per unique key) in which one half of the bits is set to zero and the other half to one.

Last November, Kilopass and Certicom partnered to deliver a comprehensive solution for HDCP-enabled applications. Essentially, Certicom uses a technology called KeyInject, along with Kilopass’ XPM Xtend memory IP, to protect against security breaches during the HDCP chip manufacturing process. The combined solution helps automate key logistics, diminish liability, improve tracking, and reduce costs related to chip manufacturing and silicon testing of HDCP keys.

Looking ahead, the graphics industry is expected to start embracing GDDR5, the next-generation graphics memory technology, especially in the high-end gaming and medical imaging sectors. Leading the charge is Samsung with its latest GDDR5 memory device. It can transfer up to 6 Gbits/s, which is a significant increase over current technologies like GDDR3.

Samsung’s first 512-Mbit GDDR5 memory device is due to arrive shortly. And while only a small percentage of designs will adopt the new technology this year, the company expects GDDR5 memory chips will become a de facto standard in the top-performing market segments, In fact, Samsung feels it will make up more than 50% of the high-end PC graphics market by 2010.

TAGS: Intel
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